A Conflict In Interest Essay, Research Paper
A Conflict in Interest
The year 1910 marked the beginning of reform within the Mexican political order. Proposals such as Francisco Madero’s Plan of San Luis Potosi and The Plan de Ayala by Emiliano Zapata denounced the rigid control of dictator Porfirio Diaz, stating that the existing government offered no concessions to the Mexican people. In an effort to overthrow Diaz, Madero’s plan for revolution declared the current government nonexistent beginning at six o’clock on the evening of November 20, 1910. Emiliano Zapata, however, developed a plan resulting from his own lost faith in Madero’s goals and unfulfilled promises. On November 25, 1910, Zapata offered his own proposal to “continue the revolution begun by (Madero)” until the overthrow of the dictatorship is achieved. While both men declared their own “ideals of freedom and justice,” it is quite evident that the Plan of San Luis Potosi and The Plan de Ayala developed from very different motivations.
A Coahuila hacendado, Francisco Madero was a member of Mexico’s elite. His goal to reform Diaz’s government stemmed from his belief that the current political order would eventually lead to social revolution. However, he also maintained that the democracy must be controlled by an elite, and that “the ignorant public…should take no part in determining who should be the candidate for public office.” (Haynes 273).
Emiliano Zapata was a mestizo landowner who gave his support to Madero with the hope that the land stolen from his people by the Porfirista aristocracy would be returned.
Indigenous rights and agrarian reform became Zapata’s driving forces, and when Madero’s promises of reform were unfulfilled, he took the reform into his own hands.
In regards to the delegation of power, Madero’s Plan stated that until an election can be held, he would serve as “provisional President.” He will then bestow power upon other “provisional authorities” and “provisional Governors” thus providing no direct evidence that the people will have any involvement in the choice for leaders. Emiliano Zapata, however, made no effort in his proposal to designate a position of power to himself or anyone else, stating that representatives will designate an interim President once the revolution is achieved. Through these statements, Madero seemed anxious to take control of the government, while Zapata focused on serving the needs and rights of all the Mexican people.
In maintaining an illusion of democracy, Madero stated in his Plan that the new government would collect loans (forced and voluntary) to pay the debt caused by the revolution, and that these loans would be carefully documented and repaid. Just as Diaz had done in his dictatorship, Madero took from the poor in order to pay for the actions of an elite group, all while upholding the image that he was carrying out his plan with the Mexican people in mind. His Plan stated, “The most severe penalties will be applied to the soldiers who sack a town or who kill defenseless prisoners.” This statement was one of few that demonstrate concern for the “defenseless” peasants. Madero addressed the taking of the indigenous peoples’ land by declaring that the land shall be returned to its former owners, and if this is not possible, they will receive indemnity from those who stole their property. Unlike Zapata’s proposal which detailed his plot to return all “fields, timber, and water which the landlords, cientificos, or bosses have usurped…” to those who have the corresponding titles, this vague statement is the only mention of stolen land in the Plan of San Luis Potosi. In fact, while he was president, Madero refused to carry out his land reforms claiming that it would impede the modernization of agriculture. As a result, Zapata’s plan stated that not only will land be returned, but also the possessions of the opposing elite will be “nationalized” and used for “indemnizations of war, pensions for widows and orphans of the victims who succumb in the struggle for the present plan.” The plans for reform that Francisco Madero and Emiliano Zapata presented to the people of Mexico clearly embodied each writer’s incentives. The Plan of San Luis Potosi concentrated on Madero’s individual concerns, such as the delegation of authority and monetary funds, while barely addressing the concerns of the peasants and working class. The fact that once Madero obtained power, much of Porfirio Diaz’s government—the very political order that Madero claimed to oppose—remained intact is further evidence that he was, to quote Zapata, merely “satisfying his personal ambitions.” Throughout the entire struggle, Zapata, on the other hand, maintained his desire to represent the peasants of Mexico, and in his Plan de Ayala, never expressed any intention to assume a position of power. Each detail of his proposal illustrated how his plan will serve and involve the Mexican people entirely, thus further demonstrating the inherent differences in the motivations and priorities in the visions of Francisco Madero and Emiliano Zapata.